By MARJORIE BROWN
KENNESAW, Ga. – According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, to empower is “to promote the self-actualization or influence of” a person. That was what Ashley Johnson had in mind when creating the Successful, Helpful, Empowerment organization at Kennesaw State University on April 13, 2013.
S.H.E. organization is a student run KSU volunteer program that aims to encourage women empowerment and youth development within the community according to S.H.E. President Kameron Buckner.
“Our mission is to empower and inform women of all ages and backgrounds by providing them with the knowledge, confidence, and tools to succeed in today’s society,” said Buckner.
When first transferring to KSU from the University of West Georgia, Johnson was looking for an organization that met her needs of building a community for female KSU students. When Johnson could not find an organization that met her needs, she decided to take action.
“If you don’t like something; change it! Or in my case, create it! The rest is history,” said Johnson via email.
After asking women, including President Buckner, if they wanted to create an organization, Johnson went to the KSU Student Life and SABAC (http://kennesaw.edu/studentsuccess/sabac.shtml) to start the process of creating an organization at KSU.
“It took a lot of time to form a constitution and decide how things should go. Realistically, we made a bunch of mistakes in the beginning,” said Johnson. “It was all worth it. Today, we are bigger and better.”
S.H.E. organization has been able to take its mission and implement it with students in the East Cobb area. Its biggest program is the Dream Girls program (Dream Girls: Creating A Difference For Young Girls) where the organization volunteers go to East Cobb Middle School and mentor a group of young girls after school.
S.H.E has also gotten involved on campus at KSU. Buckner says that the organization has partnered with the poetry club at KSU for a poetic justice talk. This event brought together African-American women to openly speak about issues they face as African-American women.
Another KSU event that the organization was involved in was a field day event it created to bond with other organizations around campus according to Halle Cross. Cross has been a member of the S.H.E. organization for two years and has been a big part of the Dream Girls mentoring program.
The future is endless for the S.H.E. organization. Currently, the organization is working on becoming an official nonprofit program.
Johnson is also looking to expand the program to more than just middle school girls. Johnson’s ideas include expanding programs to high school and incoming freshmen students. Another expansion that Johnson would like to make is creating an annual conference for teens.
“Our plan is to empower women of all ages through our programs and initiatives,” said Johnson.
Buckner would also like to see the program extend beyond just East Cobb Middle School young girls. Buckner would like to see the programs in libraries to expand their reach to young girls all over the Cobb County area.
For more information on the S.H.E. organization and its programs, visit its website (https://kennesaw.collegiatelink.net/organization/SHE).